Google Experimenting With New Toolbar Menu

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 31, 2011
Updated • Mar 20, 2015

Update: The experiment is over and no longer available.

A black toolbar is displayed on almost every Google property. The bar displays links to popular Google services as well as options to sign in and to open the settings configuration menu. The black bar is part of a global redesign of core Google services, and has been only recently added to those web pages (see New Google Sign-In Page and Change Google’s Black Navbar Back To White as starting points).

François Beaufort discovered (likely via Motou Xiao) that Google is already experimenting with a new toolbar layout that changes the display significantly (again). Francois posted instructions on how to display the new menu right now.

The two commands show what's inside. They do not trigger the new menu, and are probably only interesting to developers or coders who know they way around JavaScript.

Go to, open your console, and enter dir( and dir( to see what's inside.

I tried to run the commands but could not get them to work. The menu looks like this.

google pulldown

The new toolbar, or toolbelt as Google calls is, is a dropdown menu that appears when a user clicks on the arrow next to the Google icon on a page where it is enabled. The dropdown menu displays the very same links that are displayed in the black navigational toolbar at the moment.

The black navbar has been completely removed and most of its elements have been moved into the header of the Google page itself. The unread messages count and share button on Google+ for instance have been moved to the header on that page.


It is not clear if Google will remove the black toolbar on all of its properties to replace it with the new menu layout, if it is a Google+ only change or if project Kennedy won't make it to a public release.

The benefit of the new layout should be obvious: More screen estate for the site's contents.

What's your take on the new layout? Do you think that Google will go ahead and make it the new default design for their pages?


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  1. Klado said on November 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Guys use this for Google reader waste of space… , works like a sharm.

    1. B. Moore said on November 2, 2011 at 12:08 am

      To be honest the space removed by the userstyles script linked above is just about UN-NOTICEABLE.

      Anyone know of something better?

      I am going to hack around with that userstyles script above and see if I can get more space removed from gReader….

    2. Midnight said on November 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      Good one, Klado. Thanks!

  2. Threshold said on November 1, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    How the hell do you get the old Greader please?
    It’s ridiculously big and all this white is blinding me!

  3. stan said on November 1, 2011 at 2:53 am

    how to revert back to old google reader? the new one eating a lot of pixels and i only have small laptop screen.

    1. B. Moore said on November 1, 2011 at 6:40 am

      That is my #1 complaint with the new Google Reader.

      Too dam much white space.

      Where is the “Compact View” like they did with Gmail and Gdocs?

  4. virtualguy said on November 1, 2011 at 1:18 am

    There is something funky going on with Google Mail and/or Chrome. All day, I’ve had trouble logging into my gmail account using Chrome. But, no probs logging in with Firefox. Go figure.

    1. Anonymous said on November 1, 2011 at 1:27 am

      Question is…Why use Chrome when you have Firefox? :)

  5. Midnight said on November 1, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Just popped up Google Reader and the new layout looks rather nice and clean!
    Good effort there, Google! :)

  6. Paul(us) said on November 1, 2011 at 12:23 am

    I do like changes but maybay in this case its maybay not for the good.

  7. Midnight said on October 31, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    There’s a user script (Google Clean up script) that removes the black bar and restores it back to normal!

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